Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has today wished Clare students the very best over the coming weeks as they tackle Junior and Leaving Certificate exams. He has also said that both the Leaving and Junior Certificate exams need to be re-structured and overhauled.

Deputy Carey said:

“In the past week roughly 116,000 students across Ireland are sitting exams. In Clare we have 1300 students sitting the Leaving and Junior Certificate and a further 91 students sitting the Applied Leaving Cert. I want to take this opportunity to wish them the very best of luck and hope they don’t get too stressed during the course of the exam timetable. It’s important also to acknowledge the work of their teachers and parents in preparing them for this moment.

There is a wider issue to be made here though. The government committed some time back to overhauling both the Junior and Leaving Certificate models, in an effort to make them more responsive to the needs of modern society. As of yet, that overhaul hasn’t happened and there are question marks now hanging over government’s commitment.

The latest comment from government is that they will tackle the Junior Cert first and then the Leaving. This means that planned changes could be years away.

In the meantime, business leaders have been critical of the examination and the type of skills students are learning in secondary school. There is too much of an emphasis on rote learning and not enough on problem solving and individual thinking. There are also now question marks over grade inflation in the past decade. We have a duty to our secondary students to ensure that they are as fully prepared as can be for life after school. We must listen to our business leaders and CEOs of multinationals based here and take their views seriously.

I would encourage government to accelerate the overhaul of both examinations, and commit the necessary funding to enable a more responsive, modern and practical examination model to be adopted. In the coming years, Ireland will need every advantage in the jobs market. We have always prided ourselves on our education system. It’s time now to ensure our examination model moves with the times.”